Senators push for preparedness training

Two senators introduced a bill last month to create an educational academy at the Homeland Security Department to train federal, state and local government professionals about the department and its mission.

According to the proposed National Homeland Security Academy Act of 2005, the academy would be part of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness. It would include a center to teach homeland security strategy, goals, methods and techniques through classroom and distance-learning instruction.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), said DHS, state and local professionals need to understand the department’s full scope and not just their particular jobs.

“This academy would accomplish that,” he said in remarks entered into the Congressional Record Dec. 21. “It would cultivate leaders, teach the full range of skills necessary for robust homeland security and provide cross-disciplinary and joint education and training to government officials at the federal, state and local levels so that they can develop the bonds and relationships that will make their work more efficient and effective.”

The academy would be modeled on the Defense Department’s war colleges and also incorporate the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, located in Monterey, Calif.

That center, which the Naval Postgraduate School operates, has been offering since 2002 a master’s degree in homeland security, certificate programs and other educational tools developed in partnership with DHS' Office for Domestic Preparedness. According to its Web site, the center offers current and future homeland security leaders various programs focused on policies, strategies, programs and organizational elements to defeat terrorism.

According to the bill, the strategy center should have an initial annual enrollment target of 1,000 resident students who are new DHS mid-level executive employees and other federal, state, local and private-sector individuals with homeland security responsibilities.

The academy will also encourage the development of e-learning systems to ensure that the training fits individual needs, is efficient and provides practical skills.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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